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Struycken, Antonius Alexis 

The German white book on 
the war in Belgium 









Professor A. A. H. STRUYCKEN. 

ic articles here translated originally appeared in 
"Van Onzen Tijd" (Amsterdam) on 31st July, 
7th August, 14th August, and 21st 
August, 1915. 


35 and 36, Paternoster Row, London, E.C. 


Price 2d. 







Professor A. A. H. STRUYCKEN. 

The articles here translated originally appeared in 

" Van Onzen Tijd " (Amsterdam) on 3 1 st July, 

7th August, 14th August, and 21st 

August, 1915. 

35 and 36, Paternoster Row, London, E.G. 

MAY 2 1 1974 

The charges made against the German army 
of misconduct at the time of the invasion of 
Belgium during the months of August and 
September, 1914, which have occupied so large 
a place in the public press, received official con- 
firmation in the Reports of the Belgian Com- 
mittee. (" La Violation du Droit des Gens en 
Belgique" Berger-Levrault, Paris, and Libraires- 
Editeurs, Nancy. An English translation has 
been published as a Parliamentary Paper : 
" Reports on the Violation of the Eights of Nations 
and of the Laws and Customs of War in Belgium" 
Harrison and Sons, London.) This has been 
supplemented by the important evidence collected 
in this country among the Belgian refugees, and 
published as the report of the Commission on 
Alleged German Outrages. 

Charges of this kind when made officially by 
the government of the country could not be 
ignored or left unanswered, and in May, 1915, 

the German Government, which had hitherto con- 
fined itself to vague and general repudiation of 
the accusations, published their official reply. * 
Those who wish to investigate one of the most 
lamentable episodes in the whole history of war 
are therefore now able to compare the case for 
what we may call the prosecution and the defence. 
But this comparison requires a trained legal mind, 
it can only be made by one who is accustomed 
to weigh, analyse and test evidence. It is a 
comparison which, moreover, can be better under- 
taken by the citizen of a neutral state than by 
one whose country is a participant in the war. 
This is the task which Professor Struycken has 
undertaken. No one could be better suited for 
the work. For many years a distinguished pro- 
fessor in the faculty of Law at the University 
of Amsterdam, and now a member of the Council 
of State, he belongs to a country which has from 
the time of Grotius associated itself with the 
effort to bring international relations and the 
conduct of war under the influence of Law and 

* It should be noted that the Report of the English 
Commission did not appear till after the publication of 
the German White Book, which, therefore, contains no 
.reference to it. 

f7994r 8.) 

Justice. In the following pages he has sub- 
mitted the German case to a close investigation ; 
it is a work that deserves to be more widely 
known than it could be so long as it was acces- 
sible only in the Dutch Magazine in which it 
originally appeared, and this translation has been 
issued in the belief that it will be of material 
assistance to those English speaking readers who 
would desire to understand the nature of the 
defence put forward by the German Government 
against the charges brought against the German 





1. Objects of the White Book, and the legal position. 

The Governments of the belligerent States 
continue zealously to collect and publish material 
with regard to the manner in which the war has 
been conducted by their enemies ; and apparently, 
so far as the rules of law and humanity are 
concerned, importance is still attached to the 
opinion of the great public. To a particular 
degree, attention continues to be focussed on the 
question of the respective behaviour of the German 
armies and the civilian inhabitants in Belgium in 
the first months of the war. For many people the 
reports on these points were decisive in determining 
the side to which their sympathies were to be 

attached during the war, and perhaps after it too. 
The Belgian Official Committee of Inquiry has 
already published many batches of depositions to 
prove that German troops conducted the war in a 
needlessly cruel manner, destroying the lives, 
honour and property of innumerable defenceless 
civilians, and many of the scientific and artistic 
monuments of the Belgian people. The German 
Government has now replied to this in an impres- 
sive folio qf more than 325 pages bearing the title 
" Die Yolkerrechtswidrige ung des belgischen 
Volkskrieges," (Offences against international law 
in the Conduct of the War by the Belgians), con- 
sisting of ah extensive collection of evidence, 
mostly on oath, which is intended to prove that 
tHe numerous executions, burnings and acts of 
devastation carried out by the German troops in 
Belgium were a " Kriegsnotwendigkeit " (necessity 
of war), necessary as a deterrent in view of the 
treacherous and criminal behaviour of the civil 
population, which, both at the time of and after 
the invasion, transgressed against all rules of law 
and humanity. 

It is clear that, owing to the failure to entrust 
the investigations to neutral commissions, we must 

despair of ever learning the whole truth with regard 
to what happened in Belgium in August and 
September of last year. The evidence collected is 
already extensive enough, but is in many respects 
contradictory, and each side pours contempt on the 
investigations of their antagonists and on the 
trustworthiness of the witnesses examined by them. 
It would be rash, however, to infer from this 
that all neutral investigations is superfluous, and 
that the study of the atrocity books published on 
either side is a waste of time. On the contrary 
the impartial looker-on may find much that has 
already been definitely established and which will 
go down as historical truth whatever the end of the 
war may be ; and, if we are not mistaken the above- 
mentioned publication of the German Government 
will, in many respects, give considerable assistance 
in forming a true view of the attitude adopted by 
the German troops towards the population. 

This book is entirely different in character from 
the reports of the Belgian, French and English 
Commissions. The latter purport to be indictments 
of the German army, and with that in view present 
in an almost monotonous and unbroken series the 
declarations of victims and witnesses of German 
outrages. The German book on the other hand 


is a defence, not designed primarily to deny the 
outrages which are the subject of this charge to 
some extent they are described therein in all their 
details but to justify them in the very words of 
those actually responsible. In it are given the 
statements of the officers and soldiers who took 
part in the proceedings against the Belgian civil 
population. The book, therefore, enables one to 
obtain insight into the state of mind in which 
officers and soldiers ordered and carried out the 
innumerable executions and acts of destruction 
which took place. We learn, from their own 
mouths, how the troops conceived their attitude to 
the inhabitants to be justifiable according to the 
law of nations, on what grounds they thought 
themselves entitled to carry out their cruel deeds, 
what evidence they regarded as sufficient to 
establish the so severely punished offences of the 
citizens, what relation they established between 
punishment and crime, and what procedure was 
followed for the ascertainment of guilt or innocence. 
So regarded, this book offers interesting material 
for the investigation of the criminologist, moralist 
and psychologist. Here we can only make a few 
general observations presenting themselves on a 
first perusal. 


The work opens with a " Denkschrift " 
(memorandum) by the German Government which 
can be regarded as a summary of the conclusions 
drawn by them from the evidence in the Appendices. 
In the eyes of the German Government it is an 
established fact that a " wilder Yolkskampf" (savage 
people's war), against the German army, broke out 
in Belgium immediately after the invasion, and 
that this must be regarded as a flagrant violation 
of the law of nations. Civilians of every station in 
life, workmen, manufacturers, doctors, teachers, 
priests, women and children, were taken with 
weapons in their hands. From houses and gardens, 
from roofs and cellars, from fields and woods, 
civilians fired upon the German troops ; the soldiers 
were exposed to a most despicable ill-treatment ; 
hot tar and boiling water were poured upon them ; 
eyes were gouged out, ears, noses and fingers were 
cut off, bellies cut open, &c., &c. ; all this follow- 
ing on an apparently friendly reception on the part 
of the inhabitants. 

In face of this the German army was not only 
justified in taking, but obliged to take, the severest 
measures (scharfsten Massnahmen) ; the guilty had 
to be treated not as soldiers and prisoners of war, 
but as criminals and murderers : the innocent had 


to suffer with the guilty, hostages were taken in 
great numbers to be killed if necessary as a de- 
terrent, houses had to be burnt down, villages and 
towns devastated, &c. 

In forming a judgment on all this, the German 
Government takes up the standpoint that its troops 
as well as the Belgian population were subject to 
the Hague Convention of 1907 as to the laws of 
war. It therefore makes no use of the formally 
correct excuse, first made by Professor F. R. von 
Liszt, that since States have come into this war 
which did not accept that Convention, it is, accord- 
ing to its own rules, not binding upon any party. 
Indeed, whether this excuse is relied upon or not r 
it makes little difference to the consideration of the 
behaviour of the army of the civilian population, 
for this would in that case be regulated by the 
Convention of 1899 which was signed by all 
States, and contains the same rules on this 
subject as that of 1907.* In accordance, there- 
fore, with article 2 of the Convention, the 

* The Convention of 1899 is rather more favourable to 
the civilian population in so far as it does not, like that 
of 1907, require that they should carry weapons openly 
if they are to be regarded as combatants. 


German Government distinguishes between fight- 
ing by the inhabitants in territory already 
occupied by the troops (as in Aerschot, Andenne 
and Lou vain), in which the unorganised 
population taking part in hostilities can never, 
according to the laws of nations, claim to be 
treated as combatants that is as soldiers and 
the forcible resistance of the population to the 
invading troops in territory hitherto unoccupied 
as in the frontier places and in Dinant and it& 
neighbourhood, where the unorganised population, 
provided that they carry arms openly and respect 
the laws and customs of war, must, according to 
the Convention, be regarded as combatants, if 
on the approach of the enemy they take up arms 
spontaneously to resist the invading troops, without 
having had time to organise themselves. 

A perusal of the evidence of the various 
witnesses, however, fails to show that the officers 
ever took this legal distinction into account^ 
or even that it was present to their minds. 
Civilians supposed to have taken part in the 
fighting were never treated as soldiers, but always 
as criminals. One is inclined to seek the reason 
for this in the circumstance that the book 
" Kriegsbrauch in Landkriege " (i.e., the German 

War Book) by means of which the officers are 
educated in the law of nations, does not make 
this distinction, or rather, bearing in mind what 
was settled at the Hague, rejects it, requiring that, 
in all cases, in all hostilities in which the people 
take part, there should be a military organisation 
and military emblems openly worn. 

The passage runs as follows : " But the 
" organisation of irregulars in military bands and 
" their subjection to a responsible leader are not 
" by themselves sufficient to enable one to grant 
" them the status of belligerents ; even more 
" important than these is the necessity of being 
" able to recognise them as such and of their 
" carrying their arms openly . . . ' 

" This condition must also be maintained if it 
" becomes a question of the 4 levee en masse J the 
" arming of the whole population of the country, 
" province, or district ; in other words the so-called 
" people's war or national war. Starting from the 

' view that one can never deny to the population 
" of a country the natural right of defence of one's 
:t fatherland, and that the smaller and consequently 

1 less powerful States can only find protection in 
" such levees en masse, the majority of authorities 


" on international law have, in their proposals for 
" codification, sought to attain the recognition on 
" principle of the combatant status of all these 
" kinds of people's champions, and in the Brussels 
" declaration and the Hague Regulations the 
" aforesaid condition is omitted. As against this 
" one may nevertheless remark that the condition 
" requiring a military organisation and a clearly 
" recognisable mark of being attached to the 
" enemy's troops, is not synonymous with a denial 
" of the natural right of defence of one's country. 
"It is therefore not a question of restraining the 
" population from seizing arms but only of com- 
" pelling it to do this in an organised manner. 
" ' Subjection to a responsible leader, a military 
organisation, and clear recognisability cannot 
be left out of account unless the whole recog- 
nised foundation for the admission of irregulars 
is going to be given up altogether and a 
conflict of one private individual against another 
is to be introduced again, with all its attendant 
horrors, of which, for example, the proceedings in 
Bazeilles in the last Franco-Prussian War affords 
an instance. If the necessary organisation does 
not really become established a case which i& 
by no means likely to occur often then nothing 

" ' 

" ' 
" ' 

" ' 


remains but a conflict of individuals, and those 
who conduct it cannot claim the rights of an 
" ' active military status. The disadvantages and 
" c severities inherent in such a state of affairs 
" l are more insignificant and less inhuman than 
" i those which would result from recognition.' 
" (Professor Dr. C. Luder, Das Landkriegsrecht, 
u Hamburg, 1888.)"* The German Government, 
however, gives another reason why the troops 
in unoccupied territories must treat resisting 
inhabitants in the same manner as in occupied 
territories, that is, as criminals. Listen to this : 
" But the unorganised People's War was also 
" impermissible in those places which had not 
" yet been occupied by German troops, and 
" particularly in Dinant and the neighbourhood, 
" as the Belgian Government had sufficient time 
" for an organisation of the People's War as 
" required by international law. For years the 
" Belgian Government has had under consideration 
" that at the outbreak of a Franco-German war 
" it would be involved in the operations ; the 
" preparation of mobilisation began, as can be 

* Translator's Note. The version of the passage from 
German War Book here given is from Professor Morgan's 
translation, pp. 62-63. 


" proved, at least a week before the invasion 
" of the German army. The Government 
" was, therefore, completely in a position to 
" provide the civil population with military badges 
" and appoint responsible leaders, so far as they 
" wished to use their services in any fighting which 
" might take place." 

One has some reason to be astonished at such 
scornful remarks addressed to the Belgian 
Government by a Government which was a 
co-guarantor of Belgian neutrality, and had 
repeatedly in recent times, before the invasion, 
given the assurance that this would be respected. 
In any case, it reveals a misunderstanding as 
regards the aims of the Hague Convention. In 
the first place it by no means follows from 
Article 2 of the convention that the population 
taking up arms without fulfilling the conditions 
contained therein is acting in conflict with the 
law of nations, and at the Conference at Brussels 
and at the first Peace Conference it was precisely 
the Belgian delegates who took the lead in obviat- 
ing the possibility that any such inference should 
be drawn from the Convention. Armed resist- 
ance riot in accordance with the Hague Convention 
does not enjoy the protection of the law of the 


nations ; those who take part in it have not 
the right to be regarded as soldiers, but it does 
not by any means follow that their actions are 
to be regarded as in conflict with the law. In 
the second place it is not a question whether 
the Belgian Government was in a position to 
organise civilian population for warlike purposes 
this Government did not desire it. No, the 
Convention is designed to protect the population 
in places where they have, on their own initiative, 
taken up arms to repel the enemy, and therefore 
the question that must be put is whether the 
population had had sufficient time to give them- 
selves a military organisation. If one is to assume 
that, in the given circumstances, the population 
in the Belgian Frontier villages and Dinant had, 
in fact, sufficient time for this, one can without 
hesitation strike out the provisions of Article 2 
of the Convention on the ground that they are 
never applicable. 

However that may be, whether because they 
had never been taught anything else, or because 
the explanation of the Convention now given by the 
German Government was then before them, the 
German Officers had no hesitation in applying 
the same methods both to occupied and unoccupied 


territories whenever they imagined themselves to be 
confronted by forcible resistance on the part of the 
civilian inhabitants. What that meant may be 
illustrated by the events at Dinant, as given in the 
German White Book. 

On the 23rd August Dinant was stormed by the 
German troops. They were under the impression 
that the part of the town lying on the right hand 
side of the Meuse had already been evacuated by 
the Belgian troops, As they entered they were 
in fact fired upon from all sides, and, as they 
thought, out of the houses. In the conviction that 
the civilian inhabitants were responsible for this, 
house after house was stormed and cleared of 
inhabitants. As it appeared impossible to obtain 
control of the town in this way it was then 
destroyed by artillery. 

What had now to be the fate of the civilian 
inhabitants who in the opinion of the German 
troops had offered forcible resistance ? On the 
23rd August, even according to the judgment of 
the German Government, the town did not form 
part of the occupied territory. The population, so 
the German troops were convinced, had organised 

7994 B 


armed resistance, and had taken up arms on their 
own initiative to resist the invading troops. That 
the latter, in this belief, stormed the houses in 
order to overcome the resistance, is clear. Had 
they met with armed resistance in the course of 
this, and repelled it by force, the victims thereof 
would have had nothing to complain of. But by 
hundreds and hundreds, men, women and children, 
were taken prisoners in the houses, on suspicion of 
having fired. What was their fate to be ? If they 
fell under the protection of Article 2 of the 
Convention they should have been treated as 
combatants, as soldiers, i.e., they should have been 
made prisoners of war and in accordance with 
Article 4 of the Convention, have been treated with 
humanity. What happened to them ? They were 
all ik niedergemacht" (slaughtered). How? One 
deposition out of many, that of ;c stabsarzt " (staff- 
surgeon) Dr. Petrenz, shows how. He tells us of 
his experiences on the morning of the 24th 
August, the day after the assault : " On the bank 
of the Meuse between the river and a garden wall 
directly to the left of the pontoon bridge lay a heap 
of civilians who had been shot ; I do not know 
how many, I estimate about 30 to 40. I do not 
know who had shot them. I have heard that the 


Grenadier Regiment No. 101 carried out an execu- 
tion there. Among the people who were shot were 
some women, but by far the greater number were 
young lads. Under the heap I discovered a girl of 
about Jive years of aqe, alive and without any injuries. 
I took her out and brought her down to the house 
where the women were. She took chocolate, was 
quite happy, and was clearly unaware of the 
seriousness of the situation. I then searched the 
heap of bodies to see whether any other children 
were underneath. But we only found one girl of 
about ten years of age who had a wound in the lower 
leg. I had her wound dressed and brought her at 
once to the women." 

II. The Published Evidence. 

The German White Book consists of an 
" Auslese " (selection) from the comprehensive 
material at the disposal of the German Govern- 
ment. It does not by any means deal with the 
whole course of the war in Belgium, nor with the 
long series of charges which have been made 
against the German troops by the Belgians. It 
merely deals, by way of example, with the events 

in the places concerning which the most serious 
charges have been made, especially the frontier 
villages and Aerschot. Andenne Dinant and 
Lou vain. 

In what spirit has this " selection " been put 
together ? Has the collection of the most im- 
portant data concerning the various events been 
made in an impartial manner ? Or have all the 
documents tending to inculpate the Germans been 
put on one side and the choice been limited to the 
reports and declarations which, it was hoped, would 
throw a favourable light on the German troops ? 
To be in a position to form a considered judgment 
on this it would be necessary to know the un- 
published' documents as well. Nevertheless, it may 
be said that the German Government, however 
much it may assert its conviction that its troops 
are innocent, at any rate of any more serious 
excesses than such as are unavoidable in the best 
regulated armies invading an enemy country, must r 
in the compilation of its White Book, have per- 
ceived that its perusal was not likely to produce 
the same conviction in the mind of every reader. 
In one respect, indeed, impartiality has been 
exhibited by Berlin, for the White Book is by no 
means limited to such declarations as place beyond 


doubt the guilt of the civilian inhabitants, and the 
right of the troops to 'take forcible steps against 
them ; on the other hand, however, a one-sided 
character has been given to the published material 
by excluding from it important documents which 
are indispensable for the knowledge of the whole 
truth. With regard to this we are not referring 
to the peculiar fact that the sworn depositions are 
almost exclusively those of Protestant witnesses, 
and only in exceptional cases those of Catholics 
that may be a mere coincidence, but to the fact 
that the book contains none of the numerous 
depositions made before the German Commissioners 
of Enquiry in the occupied territories by Belgian 
and neutral citizens, although, surely, no better 
means could have been chosen to establish the 
truth than to have the events described by the 
military also described and explained by peaceful 
citizens. Only two such reports are included, 
and it is not apparent why precisely these two 
have been chosen out of the many that are 

The first relates to the examination by a 
Lieutenant of the Burgomaster and some inhabi- 
tants of the little town of Andenne, where, 
according to the report, 200 citizens were killed 


on the 20th August. The witnesses examined, 
who indeed were nearly all prisoners, or wounded, 
or hiding in their cellars on the day in question, 
have, generally speaking, very little of importance 
to impart ; in particular none of them support the 
statement of the Military Commander that the 
citizens had fired, and had used machine-guns, 
bombs and hand-grenades too. With regard to 
the Burgomaster, the report indeed says : "He 
only knew that at 7 p.m. on the 20th August a 
murderous re was opened on our troops who 
wished to cross the bridge at Seilles." But, 
when it comes to the point, it does not add 
that he declared that this shooting was by 
civilians. The observation of the manufacturer 
Debrun that at about 7 o'clock an aeroplane 
appeared above the town, whereupon the German 
troops immediately opened fire, as to which fact 
nothing is found in the military evidence, is the 
only one which is worthy of remark. The witness 
adds that immediately thereon firing commenced 
in all parts of the town. Comparing this state- 
ment with the military reports only two of these 
are inserted one cannot escape the inference that 
the shooting at the airmen by some of the troops 
was thought by the others to be shooting by the 


civilian inhabitants, and that this mistake gave 
occasion to the cruel massacre. When one thinks 
of the bullets fired at the airmen falling to earth 
again the complaint of shooting from " Dachoff- 
nungen " (i.e., " holes in the roof 7 ') is explained, 
as is also the remark of the General : " Wonder- 
fully enough our losses were slight ; the franc- 
tireurs aimed very badly." 

The other report is of the examination t of 
Professor Albert Lemaire, director of the St. Peter's 
Hospital at Louvain. Why his statement is 
inserted is not clear. He expressly says that he 
did not see " that civilians fired into the streets 
from the houses." On the other hand, shots were 
repeatedly fired upon himself when he went into 
the garden of his house in, the evening. That this 
was done by Belgian citizens can hardly be 
supposed. The remainder of his declaration : 
" Nearly all the houses of the doctors and 
professors in Leopold Street were burnt. On the 
following, day for safety's sake I had my family 
taken to the hospital by two German soldiers. 
On Thursday, 27th August, the bombardment and 
destruction of the town was announced. I went 
with my family into the country. On my return 
I found that my house had also been burnt down," 


does not assist the Germans in justifying their 
conduct in Louvain. 

The gap caused by the absence of depositions 
of peaceful Belgians and more important still, of 
neutral citizens, must be filled, if the White Book 
is to be entirely convincing. There is all the 
more reason for the German Government to do 
this, for the fact that 'they more than once lay 
stress on communications and expressions of 
opinion from such quarters which were transmitted 
to the Committee of enquiry by German witnesses, 
shows that they themselves apparently attach 
great importance to the evidence and opinion of 
these citizens. Such a reference, for instance, was 
made by a captain of cavalry in his evidence with 
regard to the events at Aerschot. He had picked 
out the " am intelligentesten Aussehenden " (the 
most intelligent looking) from a troop of civilian 
prisoners he appeared to be a " Seminar lehrer " 
(seminary teacher) and informed him that all the 
guilty prisoners should be shot but that he (the 
Captain) would take steps to save the professor's 
life provided that he would betray the truth with 
regard to the alleged attack by the citizens, 
whereupon he is said to have been told : " that it 
was a great mistake on the part of the citizens of 

Aerschot to have received fugitive Belgian soldiers, 
kept them in hiding and put them in civilian 
clothes. These had without question united with 
the Garde Civique and an attack had then been 
undertaken by them." What would it not be 
worth to have the statements made by such an 
intelligent witness himself before a judge, under 
oath, not as a ransom for his life but given in 
entire freedom ! So too, Herr Sittart, a member of 
the Reichstag, who makes the following 
remarkable statement under oath : " On the 31st 
August at Louvain, a number of women of 
the town complained to me in tears of the 
trouble which had come upon them owing to the 
bombardment of the town. They expressly 
admitted that our troops had been fired upon from 
houses and cellars. One of these, a widow of a 
doctor, said indeed that those who had done it 
belonged to the Garde Civique. When she heard, 
however, that in Aix-la-Chapelle, there were 
wounded who had been seriously injured by small 
shot, she had to admit that civilians had taken 
part in the shooting as well. She agreed with me, 
too, when I said that neither the Garde Civique 
nor the regular troops deserve any consideration 
when they fire from an ambush, from cellars and 


roofs instead of in open and honourable combat. 
The Vice-Hector of the University of Louvain, 
Mgr. Coenraets, told me that he, as a hostage, had 
been ordered to read a proclamation to the people, 
to the effect that the hostages would be shot and 
the town bombarded if the troops were treacherously 
fired upon. He had scarcely read this in one 
street when in fact shots were fired upon the 
German soldiers accompanying him." How much 
more value would it not have had to hear, not 
what an unnamed woman had " admitted " to a 
member of the Eeichstag, not what an unnamed 
doctor's widow had finally to " admit " to him, 
and in what respect she had to " agree " with his 
view, but the direct evidence given by civilian 
inhabitants before a judge concerning the facts 
that they had observed. And so, further, what 
would it not have been worth to hear directly what 
the hostages could tell us with regard to the 
shooting of which they were witnesses, and whether 
they really observed that German soldiers were 
fired upon by citizens and out of houses. Various 
professors of the University, including some 
neutrals, have been examined by the German ad- 
ministration. To their direct evidence one would 
certainly attach more weight than to the hearsay 

of a member ot the Reichstag, who had not been 
himself a witness of the incidents, though, never- 
theless, he had not been able to find any better 
consolation for the sorrowing women of Louvain 
than to use them for the purpose of obtruding 
his opinion that the guilt lay exclusively at the 
doors of their husbands and children. 

III. The Nature of the Evidence. 

In considering why the German White Book has 
in many respects so little convincing power, one 
discovers the chief reason in the fact that in justify- 
ing the cruel punishments administered to the 
citizens of Belgium so little direct evidence with 
regard to events observed by the witnesses them- 
selves has been collected or, at any rate, published. 
What we have before us consists far too much of 
suppositions, guesses, - assurances, for the truth of 
which no satisfactory grounds are given. It is 
inconceivable that the persons charged with the 
investigation a " Kriegsgerichtsrat " or " Ober- 
kreigsgerichtsrat," sometimes an " Amtsrichter " or 
" Oberamtsrichter " could have been satisfied with 
it ; at every deposition there rises to the lips of the 


reader of their report question after question, the 
answer to which appears to be indispensable to the 
forming of a correct judgment, but which, never- 
theless, were not put to the witnesses. One would 
gladly have had the direct evidence of many of 
the soldiers concerned, which, being that of eye- 
witnesses, would have the greatest importance 
but their evidence is not found in the White Book. 
The possibility of guilt on the part of the civilian 
population is certainly not excluded, but the fact 
that the military authorities in Berlin are satisfied 
with this method of investigation, and apparently 
regard the evidence now published as satisfactory, 
makes us shudder at the thought of the evidence 
on which, in the confusion of the fighting, in the 
witches' cauldron of Dinant, in burning Aerschot 
and in so many other places in unhappy Belgium, 
sentence of death was carried out on thousands of 
citizens by officers and by soldiers of lower rank. 

" Man hat geschossen " (there has been firing), 
was the ordinary signal for death and destruction. 
One would expect to find in this dossier abundant 
and direct proof of the fact that civilians had fired ; 
in such a furious contest as that between the 
citizens and the army would have been, there must 
have been hundreds of witnesses available who 


observed the facts themselves. Relatively few 
witnesses, however, are produced who make a 
direct statement on this ; moreover, their observa- 
tion frequently took place under such circumstances 
as to magnify the chances of error : as for instance, 
when forms were seen in the darkness, shooting 
down from the upper storeys of houses, or out of 
holes in the roof, or out of trees, or firing took 
place from cellars, or loopholes near the ground, 
on passing soldiers, &c. With regard to Andenne 
and Aerschot not a single direct statement is given. 
As a rule the charge rests on hearsay statements,, 
or on suppositions, such as : " firing took place out 
of the houses, shooting from cellar-holes and 
openings in the roof," " the sound of the shot was 
not that of a German weapon," " apparently small 
shot was fired," " light smoke and dust clouds rose 
above the roof," " there were no further Belgian or 
French soldiers in the place," or " could not 
have been in the place," &c., &c. If one takes 
into account that the German troops lived in 
a state of constant fear of shooting by civilians, as 
to whose treachery and cruelty the wildest rumours 
were in circulation, that many places had only very 
recently or only partly been evacuated by the 
Belgians and the French, that German soldiers 


were frequently billeted in the houses, that a single 
shot and the rumour that it was fired by a civilian 
instigated the soldiers to a furious bombardment 
of the houses with rifles and machine guns, which 
the officers were often unable to stop, one can 
attach no great importance to such evidence even 
though it was also stated that " Es waren bestimmt 
Zivilisten " (it was certainly done by civilians), 
and one must still ask for direct evidence. 

And this all the more since there is so much, in 
the story of the resistance by the population, to 
arouse astonishment and compel suspicion. If the 
stories are true, the Belgian population in various 
places has made an incomprehensible display of 
insane heroism. Although the town is occupied 
by the Germans, and as a punishment for the 
supposed firing on the troops is set on fire in all 
directions and blown to ruins, although hundreds 
of citizens are taken prisoners and shot, although 
every citizen knows what his fate will be if the 
merest suspicion arise that his house has been fired 
from, nevertheless, they continue, day after day, 
day and night, greybeards, men, women, priests, 
children, down to little girls of 10, without 
hesitation, to fire on the troops as they pass by, 
although they know with certainty that it can 


only lead to their own destruction. But and the 
contrast is remarkable whenever the houses in 
which the firing took place are stormed and the 
soldiers force their way in, all their courage 
appears to vanish : there arises no hand-to-hand 
fight between civilians and soldiers in which many 
are killed on either side ; no, the civilians are 
merely " niedergemacht " (cut down), or, indeed, 
defenceless and helpless, taken prisoner and driven 
along, with upraised hands, into the market place 
or square to meet their fate. 

And how bad the shooting of the civilians was ! 
Various officers themselves were amazed at this ; 
the losses of the Germans were always very small. 
In narrow winding streets the citizens opened fire 
on the troops as they marched past, from the 
surrounding houses they fired on the columns 
which were halted on the square, not in single 
shots, no, a "lebhaftes Schnellfeuer " (lively rapid 
firing) a " sehr heftiges (very violent) "kolossales" 
"rasendes " (furious), " morderisches " (murderous), 
" wiitendes " (fierce), rifle fire, a " mad," " devasta- 
ting " " Schieszerei " (firing), " es krachte von 
alien Seiten, aus alien Hausern wurde geschossen, 
von alien Hangen blitzte es auf " ; (it burst from 
all sides, all the houses were fired from, it flashed 

from every slope) ; they fired with pistols, sporting 
guns, rifles, machine guns, bombs and , hand 
grenades. One would have expected an innumer- 
able list of victims but hardly any are heard of. 
In some places they are not referred to at all, in 
other cases only few are mentioned. 

The Belgian civilian population was guilty of 
cruel outrages on German wounded and therefore 
deserved no consideration. As an example one 
might instance the fact, which has attracted much 
attention and has been exploited by the German 
press to arouse hatred against the Belgians who 
were defending their country, and which also 
occasioned a cry of horror from many neutrals the 
gouging out of the eyes of the wounded, even 
by women and young girls. The White Book 
declares this fact to be established, and 
speaks of the '" bestialische Verhalten der 
Bevolkerung " (bestial behaviour of the popula- 
tion) ; many neutrals believed it too. One refers 
to the report expecting to find the depositions 
of doctors, especially in military hospitals, or the 
depositions of those who themselves had been 
maltreated, and nothing of the sort is to be found. 
Has no single wounded or dead man whose eyes 
may have been gouged out, been examined by 


a medical man ? Has no single one of the many 
who were maltreated survived so as to be able 
to give evidence of his maltreatment ? As long 
as such evidence is not published it cannot 
seriously be imagined that the allegation is proved. 
The only evidence is that of about eight soldiers 
and an officer that they saw wounded men or 
corpses on the ground whose eyes had been 
gouged out. How they knew that the eyes had 
been gouged out and not destroyed by shell 
splinters, by birds of prey, or by decay, is not 
stated. A reservist, whose calling is that of 
a book-keeper, declares indeed positively " the 
nature of the wound showed with certainty that 
the eyes had been gouged out deliberately and 
not in the course of fighting," and without 
hesitation the u Kriegsgerichtsrat " accepts his 
statement without any enquiry as to why this book- 
keeper possessed such remarkable knowledge. He 
will blush for it some day. 

For the ascertainment of the nature and cause 
of wounds of that kind expert investigation is 
indispensable. The charge that the eyes of 
wounded have been gouged out has been 
circulated both in the west and in the east, but 
we have never heard that the fact has been 

7994 C 


scientifically established ; on the contrary, we 
have repeatedly seen the accusation repelled by 
experts as deliberately untrue.* In the absence 
of further evidence, the repetition of such charges 
can only be indulged in at the risk of being 
guilty of calumny. 

As may be conceived, strong measures were 
taken whenever the German troops believed that 
firing by the civil population had taken place. 
On what principle did they act in such cases ? 
Did the officers act in accordance with the Hague 
Convention which, with special reference to the 
measures to be taken with regard to combatant 
civilians, admonishes belligerents that the popula- 
tion, even where the convention does not protect 
them, " remains under the protection and govern- 
ance of the principles of the law of nations, de- 
rived from the usages established among civilised 
peoples, from the laws of humanity, and from the 

* The case of the wounded in hospital at Aix-la- 
Chapelle is known to everyone. With regard to the 
hospitals at Vienna, Prof. Lammasch reports in the 
" Deutsche Revue " that he has investigated several cases, 
in which maltreatment of this kind has been alleged, 
"but that investigation revealed that the loss of the 
soldier's eyes was attributable to shell splinters. 


dictates of public conscience," a warning which 
enabled many States to join in the convention 
which otherwise in their opinion did not afford 
sufficient protection to the population ? Did they, 
in particular, bear in mind Article 50 of the Con- 
vention, which expressly prescribes that " no 
collective penalty . . . shall be inflicted upon the 
population on account of the acts of individuals for 
which it cannot be regarded as collectively respon- 
sible " ? Or did they remember the lessons given 
them by the great General Staff by means of 
the German War Book, in which they were warned 
against the " humanitaren Anschauungen " 
(humanitarian views) of the day which not seldom 
degenerate into " Sentimentalitat " and " weich- 
licher Gefuhlschwarmerei " (flabby emotion), and 
are in entire opposition (volkommenem Wider - 
spruch) to the nature and object of war, and which 
have already found moral recognition in some of 
the rales of the Hague Convention ?* And did 

* In the modern usages of war one can no longer 
regard merely the traditional inheritance of the ancient 
etiquette of the profession of arms, and the professional 
outlook accompanying it, but there is also the deposit of 
the currents of thought which agitate our time. But 
since the tendency of thought of the last century was 


the fact that Article 50 of the Convention is not 
referred to in the booklet issued by the General 
Staff and that, on the contrary, the suppression of 
armed resistance by the population by means of 
the most ruthless measures and terrorism is 
recommended by reference to Napoleon and 

dominated essentially by humanitarian considerations 
which not infrequently degenerated into sentimentality 
and flabby emotion (Sentimentalitat und weichlicher 
Gef uhlschwarmerei) there have not been wanting attempts 
to influence the development of the usages of war in a 
way which was in fundamental contradiction with the 
nature of war and its object. Attempts of this kind will 
also not be wanting in the future, the more so as these- 
agitations have found a kind of moral recognition in some 
provisions of the Geneva Convention and the Brussels 
and Hague Conferences. Moreover, the officer is a child 
of his time. He is subject to the intellectual tendencies 
which influence his own nation ; the more educated he is 
the more will this be the case. The danger that, in this 
way, he will arrive at false views about the essential 
character of war must not be lost sight of. The danger 
can only be met by a thorough study of war itself. By 
steeping himself in military history an officer will be able 
to guard himself against excessive humanitarian notion? ; 
it will teach him that certain severities are indispensable 
to war nay more, that the only true humanity very often 
lies in a ruthless application of them. (German War 
Book. See Professor Morgan's translation, pp. 54-55 il.) 


Wellington,* give them the impression that the 
considerations referred to above apply to this 
Article also ? 

* By war rebellion is to be understood the taking up of 
arms by the inhabitants against the occupation ; by war 
treason, on the other hand, the injury or imperilling of the 
enemy's authority through deceit or through communi- 
cation of news to one's own army as to the disposition, 
movement, and intention, &c., of the army in occupation, 
whether the person concerned has come into possession 
of his information by lawful or unlawful means (i.e., by 

Against both of these only the most ruthless measures 
are effective. Napoleon wrote to his brother Joseph, 
when, after the latter ascended the throne of Naples, the 
inhabitants of lower Italy made various attempts at 
revolt : " The security of your dominion depends on 
how you behave in the conquered province. Burn down 
a dozen places which are not willing to submit them- 
selves. Of course, not until you have first looted them ; 
my soldiers must not be allowed to go away with their 
hands empty. Have three to six persons hanged in every 
village which has joined the revolt ; pay no respect to 
the cassock. Simply bear in mind how I dealt with 
them in Piacenza and Corsica." The Duke of Wellington, 
in 1814, threatened the South of France ; " he will, if 
leaders of factions are supported, burn the villages and 
have their inhabitants hanged." In the year 1815, he 
issued the following proclamation : " All those who after 


The White Book gives a few instances of 
humane treatment, especially of women and 
children, and no one will doubt that many other 
instances could have been given the German 
soldier is still a man nevertheless it does not 
appear from these instances that the many acts 
of inhumanity with which the Germans are 
accused, in the Belgian, French and English 
reports, did not take place. But if one asks what 
system was followed in suppressing the actual or 
supposed resistance of the civil population, the 
answer can only be that it was one of " terrorism" 
slaughter and destruction of both the guilty and the 
innocent, on a large scale utterly disproportionate, 

the entry of the (English) army into France leave their 
dwellings and all those who are found in the service of 
the usurper will be regarded as adherents of his and as 
enemies ; their property will be used for the maintenance of 
the army." " These are the expressions in the one case of 
one of the great masters of war and of the dominion founded 
upon war power, and in the other, of a commander-in- 
chief who elsewhere had carried the protection of 
private property in hostile lands to the extremest 
possible limit. Both men as soon as a popular rising 
takes place resort to terrorism." J. von Hartmann, 
Kritische Versuche, II, p. 73. (German War Book. See 
Prof. Morgan's version, pp. 121-122. Translator.) 


to the measure of guilt found or thought to be found, 
and designed not only for the suppression of the 
supposed resistance but as a deterrent for the future. 
Clearly the humanitarian principle contained in 
Article 50 of the Convention was not regarded as 

In conclusion, we may test the general observa- 
tions given above by reference to a particular 
instance, namely, the series of events at Aerschot. 

IV. Aerschot. 

Aerschot is an old town of about 8,000 inhabi- 
tants, and lies to the North of Lou vain. On the 
morning of the 19th of August there took place 
in its immediate neighbourhood, an engagement 
between German and Belgian troops, as a result of 
which the former entered the town.* In the 
course of the day the place became crowded with 
soldiers infantry and cavalry, supply artillery and 

* For all that follows the White Book is the exclusive 
source. Even where we give our own explanation of the 
facts this is exclusively founded on the German statements. 
The use of statements from other sources would lead one 
to a conclusion not wholly coincident with this. 


ammunition columns. About five o'clock the staff 
arrived. Colonel Stenger, commanding the brigade, 
together with his adjutant, Captain Schwarz, and 
his orderly officer, Lieutenant Beyersdorf, took up 
quarters in the house of the Burgomaster on the 
Market Square. Captain Karge, of the military 
police, went to the house of the Burgomaster's 
brother, situated in a narrow street, which ran 
towards the market place in a northerly or north- 
westerly direction. Captain Folz, of the 49th 
Infantry Regiment arrived at the same time as the 
latter, and shortly after came Colonel Jenrich, 
who acted as local commandant, and Captain 
Schleusener, with his machine gun company. 

With the exception of Colonel Stenger, who was 
killed, these are the witnesses whose statements 
are contained in the White Book. The book 
contains no evidence given by citizens of Aerschot. 

The troops were well received by the inhabitants. 
Immediately after his arrival. Colonel Jenrich 
summoned the Burgomaster, warned him against 
any hostile behaviour on the part of the inhabitants, 
and impressed upon him " that he would suffer the 
penalty of death if an attack were made on the 
German troops by the population." 


At 8 o'clock in the evening shots were suddenly 
heard in the neighbourhood of the market place. 
The first shots were followed by volleys, and then 
by lively rapid firing. The soldiers, who filled 
the narrow winding streets and the market place, 
fell into great disorder and fired without inter- 
mission ; the mounted men and drivers left their 
horses in the lurch, the horses bolted and the 
waggons ran into each other. The officers 
hurried out, attempted by orders and signals to 
make the soldiers cease firing, a task in which 
they only succeeded with difficulty.* The houses 
were fired upon with rifles and machine guns, 
some were stormed and set on fire, the fleeing 

* " I, too, with Captain Schwartz, left the room at the 
first shot in order to restore order in the market place 
among the troops, who had fallen into disorder owing 
to the shooting " (Beyersdorf). 

u The drivers and artillery soldiers had in the mean- 
time left their horses and waggons and taken cover from 
the shots in the entrances of the houses. The waggons 
to some extent had run together, because the horses 
becoming restless, had sought their own way without 
the drivers " (Karge). 

" After a short time I seemed to notice that the firing 
was being answered by our troops from the direction of 
the market place. Soon after signals and shouts 4 Cease 


towns-folk were taken prisoners and a large 
number of them shot. 

Did the townspeople fire ? Not one of the 
witnesses examined deposes to having seen this ; 
not one of them found a citizen with arms in his 
hands ; not one of them had heard from anyone 
else that he had done this. Nevertheless they 
were convinced of it. On what did their con- 
viction rest ? 

Captain Schwarz and Lieutenant Beyersdorf, 
when, in the house of the Burgomaster, they heard 
the first shots, were of opinion, to begin with, that 
these emanated from the enemy, who had been 
reported in the North. This appeared to be 
incorrect. Soon shots fell in their immediate 
neighbourhood ; and the Burgomaster's house itself 
was fired upon. By citizens or soldiers ? Both 
officers state positively "Von den eigeiien Truppen 

fire ! ' were heard. The firing then ceased for a time, but 
was re-opened apparently from both sides, though not so 
heavily " (Karge~). 

" Near the Mairie, which was to be used as an artillery 
depot, there stood a Captain of the Infanty Regiment 
No. 140, who had the signal ' Halt ! ' blown continuously. 
Clearly, this officer desired, in the first place, to stop the 
shooting of our men " (Folz). 

riihrten die Schiisse nicht her." (The shots did Dot 
come from our own troops.) How could they know 
that ? All the other witnesses declare that their 
own troops fired without intermission, and princi- 
pally on the market square itself. It follows, 
therefore, that the statement of the two officers, 
positively as it is expressed, is, in its sweeping 
terms, certainly not correct. And how, in the 
given circumstances, the streets and the market 
place being full of thousands of disordered soldiers, 
horses and waggons, could they, whether from their 
room in the burgomaster's house, or from the street 
itself, ascertain with certainty that, neither from 
the side streets nor on the market place, firing by 
their own soldiers had taken place ? 

It first occurred to Captain Karge that there had 
been some carelesness on the part of a soldier in 
the baggage train, but he soon changed his mind. 
On what grounds ? When, at the first shot, he 
looked out of the window, he noticed in the distance 
near the roof of the house, which stood at the corner 
of the market place and the street in which his 
quarters were situated, " leichte Rauch- und Staub- 
wolken aufsteigen" (light clouds of smoke and 
dust rising), a phenomenon which was repeated at 
the next volley. No firing took place from the 


windows, and hence he inferred from the dust and 
smoke clouds that firing had taken place through 
openings in the roof. Apparently he regarded 
this inference as obvious. When the rapid firing 
followed the first volleys, it appeared to him that 
it came from other houses also. On what grounds 
he made this inference is not stated by him. 

That is all. Further evidence, that townspeople 
fired on and near the market place, is not given. 
Serious doubts are indeed raised, that the soldiers 
themselves were guilty of it. 

There arose a rumour, also mentioned by Captain 
Schwarz, that Belgian troops made an attack on 
the town. This rumour originated among the 
troops at the northern gate of the town, who 
thereupon retired to the market place in disorder, 
firing as they came. Is it possible that the soldiers 
in the market place, and in the narrow winding 
streets around it, hearing that shooting, but being 
unable to see who fired, took it for firing by the 
townspeople ? This is, at any rate, made likely by 
the evidence of Captain Folz, y^ho thus describes 
the first incidents : " It was between three and 
four o'clock in the afternoon when we rode into 


the place.* Of German troops the 3rd Infantry 
Division had before this partly come through, and 
the whole of the narrow and angularly built little 
town was full of provision, artillery and ammunition 
columns. We had been about three hours in the 
town when suddenly mad firing began. This firing 
came from about the north-west entrance of the 
village. Immediately afterwards the Ambulance 
Company, I think it was the second, with 
a part of the transport of the 3rd Division, 
came to us and reported that they had been 
fired upon ; and that a Belgian battalion was 

There was, accordingly, a double rumour by 
which the soldiers were brought into a state of 
excitement, both that the town was being attacked 
by the Belgians and that the townsfolk were firing 
on the soldiers. The houses were now stormed 
and fired upon from all sides, a part were set on 
fire, and the townspeople driven or dragged out of 
them. It is conceivable that during these pro- 
ceedings in the narrow winding streets of the town, 

* This must be a mistake. Captain Folz entered the 
town contemporaneously with the Stan 2 Officers and 
Colonel Jenrich, all of whom declare that it was 
five o'clock. 


firing took place in and through the houses, and that 
thus the impression was produced that firing was 
taking place from the houses. Captain Folz. who 
at the beginning of the firing refers only to firing 
by soldiers, declares DOW about an hour later 
that he had heard or seen shots coming from 
houses. Captain Schleusener also makes the same 
observation at this stage. There is nothing to 
show that the shots emanated from citizens, and 
not from soldiers in the streets and in the houses. 
How great was the confusion appears from the 
evidence of Captain Schleusener himself. On the 
rumour that the Belgians were approaching, he 
with difficulty assembled his machine gun com- 
pany and marched through the village to the open 
country. Captain Folz went with him. About 
three kilometres from the village it was perceived 
that no trace of the enemy was anywhere to be 
found, and they immediately returned. Captain 
Folz returned on foot, and therefore came back 
later than the others. As Captain Schleusener 
with his company entered the town he heard 
firing ; he met " the cavalry battalions dashing 
backwards and forwards and the transport waggons 
of the Third Infantry Division which were trying 
to turn round," and were firing hard. He sought 


to stop the firing, was of opinion that he had 
succeeded, and heard further shots coming from 
the houses. On this he ordered "the machine guns 
to be unlimbered and the house fronts on the left 
to be fired upon." He is told %4 that shots had also 
been fired from a house on the right." What does 
he do ? "I had the guns turned round to open 
fire when a medical officer indicated that wounded 
were lying in that house." For this reason the 
house was not fired upon. It can well be con- 
ceived that Captain Folz, when he entered the 
village just afterwards, was also of opinion that 
firing was taking place from the houses and indeed 
can distinguish " that the firing was from both 
rifle and machine guns." 

Apparently the losses of the Germans, even with 
all this were very slight. Only one is mentioned 
as being killed. This was Colonel Stenger, who 
was found shot dead in his room in the Burgo- 
master's house with wounds in the face and chest. 
The balcony doors were open ; on the wall opposite 
them traces of bullets were found ; window panes 
were smashed. Probably, therefore, the Colonel 
was killed by bullets from outside. 

Was this done by civilians, or by the German 
soldiers who had been firing wildly on the houses ? 
An autopsy was made on the following day by an 
army surgeon, bat neither his evidence nor his 
report on the post mortem are included in the 
documents. Captain Folz, indeed, declares that he 
heard from this doctor that the wound in the 
Colonel's face was not attributable to an infantry 
bullet, and that he himself is of the opinion that 
the breast wound must have been caused by a shot 
from a muzzle loader. But is one, on this state- 
ment alone, without even hearing the medical man, 
to assume that the Colonel was killed by the 
citizens of Aerschot ? 

How did the military proceed in the suppression 
of the supposed insurrection of the populace ? 
How many citizens were killed by the continuous 
firing on the houses is not mentioned. The 
manner in which they went about it is best shown 
in the vivid narrative given by Captain Karge. 
This officer, as above mentioned, had suspicion of 
the red corner house by the market place, on 
account of the light smoke and dust clouds near 
its roof. During a short " Feuerpause " (interval 
in the firing) he left his house, in order to 
communicate his discoveries to a Colonel standing 


in the market place, and at the same time asked 
for permission to set the house in question on fire, 
since in his opinion " The ringleaders of the whole 
affair were collected in this house." The Colonel 
refused to give his consent. Thereupon, so he him- 
self tells us, u I DOW took some soldiers who were 
near me and went with them towards the house 
from which the shooting had first taken place, and 
in the loft of which I still presumed the originators 
and leaders to be. In the meantime, a lieutenant 
of the regiment also came up, and having taken 
the officer and men under my command I ordered 
the doors the house had a house and a shop 
door and the windows of the ground floor, which 
were securely locked, to be broken in. Thereupon 
I pushed into the house with the others, and using 
a fairly large quantity of turpentine, which was 
found in a can of about 20 litres capacity, and 
which I had poured out partly on the first storey 
and then downstairs and on the ground floor, 
succeeded in setting the house on fire in a very 
short time. Further I had ordered the men not 
taking part in this to guard the entrances of the 
house and to arrest all male persons escaping from 



How many of the citizens thus taken prisoner 
were shot, does not appear. The above-named 
Captain caused at least 88 to be shot down. 
What investigation was made ? What proofs 
were there of their guilt ? He tells himself how 
it happened, " When I left the burning house 
several civilians, including a young priest, had 
been arrested from the adjoining houses. I had 
these brought to the market place, where in the 
meantime my company of field gendarmes had 
collected. I then put the columns on the march 
out of the town, took command of all prisoners, 
among whom I set free the women, boys and girls. 
I was commanded by a Staff Officer (a Section 
Commander of the Field Artillery Regiment 
No. 17) to shoot the prisoners. Then I made my 
gendarmes arrange the columns and keep some of 
them in motion out of the town. I ordered the 
rest to escort the prisoners and take them out of 
the town. Here, at the exit, a house was burning, 
and by the light of it I had the culprits 88 in 
number, after I had separated out three cripples- 

On the following day many others were shot 
dead. On this we get nothing beyond the state- 
ment of Colonel Jenrich^which speaks for itself. 


" In the meantime the houses were searched by the 
troops, and a considerable number of inhabitants 
arrested, whose complicity in the attack on the 
troops was proved. Of the arrested male inhabi- 
tants the burgomaster, his son, the brother of the 
burgomaster, and every third man were shot on 
the following morning." 

From the foregoing declaration it appears that 
the burgomaster was also shot, the Colonel thus 
carrying out his threat, although there was nothing 
to show any guilt or complicity on the part of the 
burgomaster in the supposed insurrection of the 
population. Why were his son and his brother 
also killed ? The depositions give only slight 
indications on this point. 

After Captain Schwarz had found Colonel Stenger 
dead in his room, he thought it necessary to 
institute a search of the house in the presence of 
the wife and daughter of the Burgomaster, the 
latter not being present. In the course of this 
they forced their way into the cellar, and there 
found, in front of the window opening on to the 
street, an " auffalliges Gestell " (a remarkable 
stand) while the window pane was shattered. The 
Captain concluded from this that firing must have 

taken place from the cellar. We are not told *w hat 
the stand was like, and still less are we informed 
why the pane must have been broken by a shot 
from within and not by a shot from without. It 
is true that Captain Karge declares that coming to 
the market place in the evening, he saw a rifleman 
standing in a " Toreingang " (porch), who assured 
him that he had just distinctly seen that a shot 
had come from a house situated on the opposite 
side, and pointed in the direction of the Burgo- 
master's house. Assuming that the observation 
was accurate, was accurately communicated and 
accurately understood, then it would by no means 
follow that firing had taken place from the cellar of 
the house ; indeed, it is very improbable that the 
rifleman, standing on the opposite side of the 
market place, which was crowded with soldiers and 
carts, could have perceived that the shot came from 
the cellar. 

However, that may be, the Captain in the 
further course of his search of the house, found the 
son of the Burgomaster, a lad of 15, in one of the 
living rooms, and handed him over to the guard in 
the market place. On the following day this 
youth together with his father and uncle were shot. 

With regard to these shootings there is undeni- 
ably a serious omission in the depositions. The 
" Militar-Untersuchungs-stelle fur Yerletzungen 
des Kriegsrechts " * (Military Department for 
Inquiry into Breaches of the Laws of War), 
apparently felt this too, and therefore in their 
" Zusammenfassender Bericht" (Summary) they 
have to some extent " clothed " the subject matter. 
The summary justifies the shooting of the Burgo- 
master together with his son and brother as follows : 
" That the family of the Burgomaster himself not 
only had knowledge of the hostile acts, but also 
took part in them, was established by the immediate 
search of the house ; there had been firing into the 
street from the locked cellarf the key ot which 
the family pretended to have lostj and which 
had to be forced open, a trestle had even been 
pushed up to the cellar window to make a con- 

* Major Bauer and Kainmergerichterat Dr. Wagner 
sign in its name. 

t This was observed by nobody. 

t The witness merely said " Zu der der Schltissel 
angeblich night zu finden war." (The key of which it 
was alleged could not be found.) It will be remembered 
that the burgomaster was not at home. 


venient position for a rifleman^ ; a musketeer had 
observed with the greatest distinctness a shot fired 
from the house. The son of the Burgomaster, 
who had been concealed by the family)* and had 
been dragged out of a dark room J was the only 
person who could possibly be held guilty of this. 
As the family were in all respects accomplices 
in the murder of the Colonel || who had been 
" hospitably " received according to the Belgian 
story, father and son were shot on the following 
day, August 20th. The brother of the burgomaster 
in whose house Cavalry Captain Karge, in command 

* Free rendering by the Commission of the words 
" ein auffalliges Gestell " (a remarkable stand). 

t Statement by the Commission, not made by any of 
the witnesses. 

J The witness said : " Beim Absucheri dor Wohn- 
zimmer kam mir der Sohn des Biirgermeisters aus einen 
dunkleii Rimeau entgegen." (In the course of searching 
the living rooms the son of the burgomaster came towards 
me out of a dark room.) 

The Commission's inference, not made by any of 
the witnesses. 

I In taking this view is not the Commission closer to 
the blood feud of the ancient Germans than to Article 50 
of the Hague Convention ? 


of the second company of Field Gendarmes had 
been billeted, on the proposal of the chief magistrate 
of the town, and who had been attacked* shared 
this fate. 

In this way the matter is reconstructed by a 
Commission in Berlin, which was neither present 
when the events took place, nor heard the witnesses 
themselves. The climax of the report of the 
Commission is reached in the final conclusion 
" The complicity of the whole of the burgomaster's 
family proves how systematically the Belgian 
officials co-operated in this . treacherous treatment 
of the German troops, which was so regrettably 

Nothing is given beyond a supposition based on 
very unreliable grounds, that the burgomaster's 
son fired a shot ; and there is no evidence of the 
complicity of the father. Nevertheless, according 
to the view of the Commission the whole family 
had to suffer. And because they all had to suffer 
for it, it is assumed that they all took part in the 
attack, and this amounts to a proof that the 

* The witness himself said merely that "Schiisse 
einschlugen " (shots fell) near him. 


Belgian "officials" "systematically" co-operated in 
such plots. 

It has on many previous occasions in the course 
of the war been noticeable that the Germans 
have apparently formed a low estimate of the 
insight and critical judgment of the neutrals whom 
they seek to convince of the justice of their cause. 
The German White Book furnishes a fresh instance 
of this. If neutrals are to be convinced that the 
extreme severities carried out against the popula- 
tion in Belgium were justified, it will be necessary 
for much clearer evidence to be brought forward 
than that contained in this book. We are anxious 
to receive enlightenment as to the events which 
have occurred, and do not wish to found our judg- 
ment solely on Belgian, French and English reports 
into which exaggerations may easily have found 
their way, but desire that the Germans too may 
bring forward evidence which will stand the test of 
criticism, and will in fact prove that which it is 
desired to prove, instead of proving the exact 



D Struycken, Antonius A] 

626 Hendrikus 

B4G2827 The German white be 

the war in Belgium